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Thirty-Five Years Later: Ozzy Osbourne – Bark At The Moon

It’s a damn shame that this album just missed the Halloween mark. The truth is, I’m currently writing this on the day after Halloween, and I’m ever so bummed about the spooky season ending. Bark At The Moon is one of my favorite albums to spin during the season, and I see this as a way to keep the dark spirit alive! Ozzy Osbourne himself is already somewhat of a horror icon in the metal industry, but Bark At The Moon so happens to fuse the killer to the chiller together more so than his other records, right?

Actually, when you examine this a little more closely, you’ll find that we’re so drawn to believe this for only two things. The title track is the obvious first answer, seeing that the lyrics resemble a creature rising from the graves of Hell and roaming the planet. The other half is just the image of the album cover, an entity in a dark setting behind a tree with a full moon in the background. This is all well and good, but really, is the record itself truly packed with as much or more ghoulery than the others? The answer is no. It’s actually more about rebellion, controversy, and very realistic things despite the image surrounding it.

Jake E. Lee

Rest assured, that does not take away from the quality of the album. Bark At The Moon may not be my number one Ozzy record, but it’s packed with accessible rock vibes welded onto fist-pumping metal riffs, topped with Jake E. Lee’s fine shredded cheese, uh, shredding solos.  “Centre Of Eternity” is probably the best track on here, as the main riff is one of the greatest that the Prince Of Darkness ever gave us. The lyrics are also the perfect balance of fun and energetic, and the entire delivery is spot on.  Besides the tacky intro (which I like), it’s one of the more raw tracks. The realism in the lyrics come through on songs like “Rock ‘N Roll Rebel,” which serves as satire regarding all of the backlash that Mr. Osbourne has received over the years. “Slow Down” and “You’re No Different” deal with a similar mindset, with themes of life passing by and a softer track that attacks his naysayers yet again. So would it be fair to say that this was more of a personal album than any of the previous ones?

On a similar note, softer songs that could be considered ballads by most make up a decent portion of this.  “You’re No Different” is delivered in a sorrowful way, to convey the emotion of being crucified for ridiculous things. “So Tired” is the slowest of all, giving a similar vibe but clearly directed towards one person, also fitting in very well with the ‘80s hair metal ballads that would erupt. “Now You See It (Now You Don’t)” and “Waiting For Darkness” aren’t really ballads, but they cue in the synths and have a much slower tempo. So essentially, only half of this is your traditional metal sound, and the other half is dialed back in energy. Once again, this is by no means a bad thing, but it does contradict the darker image that surrounds Bark At The Moon.

So we’ve somewhat busted the myth on how horror-tastic this record is, and dove into the nitty gritty some more, but what really matters is how well this held up, and the impact it had on future musicians.  Ozzy Osbourne himself is obviously an icon for many metal musicians in the world, but this album particularly isn’t what I would call iconic, or at least not as much as some others. It’s certainly an essential listen, but the most influential and groundbreaking records would probably be Blizzard Of Ozz and No More Tears. The title track is all over the radio and is known by just about anyone into rock or metal, even those who aren’t big fans. So clearly that left some sort of impact. The rest of the songs are mostly dug by the real fans, such as myself. When I saw him live earlier this year, the title track was the only one to make it to the setlist. On another note, there is a fairly dated sound to this, and it’s quite clear that it came out of the early ‘80s.

When all is said and done, none of the statements above should deter you from enjoying this disc.  Even though it doesn’t hold as much merit as other records, it’s still absolutely banger from cover to cover.  The soft songs, the heavy hitters, all eight tracks are fantastic. I’m very guilty of pinning this as a “Halloween album” despite the deeper details, and while albums like Mercyful Fate’s Melissa or Alice Cooper’s Welcome To My Nightmare may be more fitting, this is still a killer heavy metal album that all should hear.  And hey, blast this shit on Halloween as well. Because in the end, the image is still there, and Ozzy himself is still a monster that is one of a kind.

Bark At The Moon is officially thirty-five years old and came out on this day through Epic Records.  It’s a very easy one to come across in all formats: vinyl, CD, and tape cassette. Thanks to the success of it in its time, there are plenty in circulation.  So if you don’t own this, I suggest seeking out a copy. Oh, and one last note, if you get the remaster with the bonus tracks “Spiders” and “One Up The B Side,” they’re totally worth hearing as well.

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